How to Not Fail a Phone Interview in 10 Ways

I haven’t mentioned exactly what my big girl job that I got last summer is. I work for a fairly good sized company (about 600 people) and I am the recruiter. We have several different branches of the company, all of which I recruit for. Anywhere from cashiers, to managers, to truck drivers, to administrative. Did I ever think I would get into recruiting? Nope. Never crossed my mind. I started in HR and just kind of fell into the position while a bunch of changes were made in our department. Is it entertaining? Oh hell yes. Sometimes it’s just work, but other times it is just amazing the things people say. I do all of my screening over the phone and let the managers do their own in person interviews.

I’m going to provide a little insight of what not to say in a phone interview. Even if you think it’s good to be honest, or don’t realize it’s a phone interview! If someone calls you from the company you applied for, you put your game voice on and be as professional and likable as possible!

1. Don’t answer the phone while driving

Once when I was screening a truck driver – a person that drives PROFESSIONALLY for a living! – he told me that there was a cop behind him. “Allison, hang on, hang on, hang on. There’s a cop pulling up behind me. Oh shoot, hang on, now he’s pulling up next to me. Uhhh I gotta go! I’ll call you back! Or you call me back!” I never called him back and he never called me back. I think he just kind of knew – it was all bad.

2. Don’t call the interviewer nicknames

A huge pet peeve of mine. Yes, I am the youngest person working for this company. Yes, my voice sounds like a 12 year old girl. No, you cannot call the person that is INTERVIEWING you sweetie, honey, kiddo, darlin’, nothing! Be respectful! I have a job at the company that YOU want to work for. Suck up to me! Ha ha.

3. Don’t put your 80s glamour shot on your resume

If the applications are good enough I won’t look at the resume for awhile. I still print it out and attach it to the application. But when I flip that page over and the first thing I see is your high school glamour shot with the feathery top, your hair all dolled up, and that soft purple background…just no. I know people suggest putting a picture on your resume, but I don’t. I really don’t suggest it. Unless if you’re applying for a modeling job, just don’t do it.

4. Don’t talk about your home life drama

I try to call people after 10 am or around 3 pm so that it gives people a chance to wake up and start their day. When I call you at 3 pm and you sound like you just woke up, I am going to ask you if you’d like to schedule a better time to talk. Don’t respond with, “No, it’s fine. I was just up so late last night. Yeah…I was just arguing with my girlfriend, it’s stupid. But yeah, I can talk now.” Ummm what?!?! 1. Not pertinent to your job searching and 2. Not pertinent to anything you could possibly need to say to me to convince me you’re the one for the job.

5. “I’ve put so many applications out there…what position is this?”

When you tell me how many resumes you’ve put out there, you’re not impressing me or making me worried that you’re looking at other positions. You’re coming across as careless. If you’re going to apply places then research the company and the position, make notes, so when they call you are prepared. Don’t do the fumbling around. Asking the interviewer what position you’re being considered for is embarrassing!

6. “I’m trying to pull up your website right now.”

This is a PHONE interview. I can’t see you. I don’t know if you’re sitting on your couch in your underwear, or sitting in the McDonald’s drive-in, or just waking up. I can’t see what you’re doing, so when I call, politely ask me to repeat the name of the company. If it doesn’t sound familiar right away then google it! But don’t tell me you’re googling it! I don’t need to know that. I want you to sound like you took the time to look into the company to applied to! Just pull up the website, but don’t tell me. There’s no need to tell me. Honestly.

7. Be aware of the questions you ask

When it comes to that time of the interview and I ask, “What questions do you have for me about the position or the company?” Do not immediately ask how much vacation and sick time you get. You do not want your first concern to be how much time you can take off and still get paid! Also, don’t ask, “So do I get the job?” I know you’re trying to be funny, but for awkward people like me, things just get awkward quicker. But you also don’t not want to ask questions. At least pretend to be interested in the company!

8. Put your cell phone number on your application and resume

There is nothing worse than trying to contact an applicant that gave his home phone number as his primary contact info. Especially when I call to interview on the phone and your buddy picks up and says, “Oh, yeah he’s here, but he’s asleep.” So then I say, “Okay, can I leave a message with you then?” Then I give my spiel and then your buddy says, “Actually, I was going to say you should just call back later.” I’m really trying not to hold your friends against you, but if you’re actively searching for a job, put your primary contact info down!

9. Ring back tones

If you’re going to have one, fine. But if you’re actively searching for employment then make sure you don’t have “Everyday I’m Hustlin’ playing for me. Totally awkward.

10. Kids crying

If your kid is crying and screaming it’s probably not the best idea to answer a phone call from a phone number that is not saved in your phone. Let it go to voicemail. It’s okay. Then call back once the drama has subsided. It’s really hard to hear about your skills over your toddler screaming in the background.

I hope these tips help! Good luck!


5 thoughts on “How to Not Fail a Phone Interview in 10 Ways

  1. Pingback: How to Not Fail a Phone Interview in 10 Ways « San Diego Metro Region Career Center

  2. Pingback: How to Not Fail an In-Person Interview in 10 Ways (Automatically) | How to Get Things Done in 10 Ways

  3. Pingback: Interview with a Recruiter (cont) – MiddleMe

  4. Pingback: How to Not Fail a Phone Interview Part 2 | How To Get Things Done in 10 Ways

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